No time to lose
I recently purchased Pema Chodron's book "No Time to Lose". The very sight of it on my kitchen counter is making me nervous. During my affirmation phase, one of my favorite affirmations was "I have all the time I need." The problem with affirmations was that I always felt as though I was trying to fool myself, something along the lines of setting the clock ten minutes ahead, so it had an almost opposite effect. I just may have missed the point of the whole affirmation thing, but I digress.
Of course, I haven't actually opened the book to see what Pema has to offer by way of explanation for the title but I have the idea that it will be similar to the comments made in the Eternal Peace blog the other day in which the author ponders the instructions to practice with the single-mindedness and urgency "like your head was on fire". Now that's an image. Similarly, I have a framed copy of the Great Mountain Zen Center's evening gatha hanging in my kitchen which admonishes:
Let me respectfully remind you,
Life and death are of supreme importance.
Time swiftly passes by and opportunity is lost.
Each of us should strive to awaken.
Awaken! Take heed! Do not squander your lives....
So I am left to consider what it will mean for me to be diligent, faithful to my practice, but not anxiously overconcerned with lost opportunity or sqandering my life! The middle path, it's really a challenge. Especially when I think too much.
When I don't think so much but present myself for whatever is before me with an open heart it becomes a lot easier. Space opens up where there didn't seem to be any before. I listen to my daughter. I refrain from judging my husband's every comment. I am patient in traffic. I appreciate snow falling on my hatless head. I stop walking by the plant that's needed watering for a week and water it. My two block walk from the parking garage to the hospital is an opportunity for walking meditation. As I enter my workplace I dedicate the merit, the power any positive actions might generate, toward relieving the suffering of all beings. Using the practice of tonglen, any strong feeling or painful situation I encounter in my day can be the basis for connecting with the suffering of others and the whole situation can begin to feel completely different.
This practice, it's just so good for me. Thanks to the Eternal Peace blogger for giving me the opportunity to check my head for flames!
Authentic Kindness of the Heart